Quick Takes


    Gainesville, Florida, the city of champions!


    Another champion was Eddie Robinson, Grambling State U. football coach from 1941-1997. He passed away this week. This legend coached more than 200 future NFL players during his 56 years at Grambling. He emphasized scholastics along with football, and was a credit to his profession.


    All too often, sports fans and media have convenient memories. That statement includes some of my readers. I’m simply tired of hearing and reading about Kobe Bryant vs Michael Jordan as the greatest players ever. The whole subject is too subjective. Kobe’s great run this year is fueling this, and he is absolutely sensational, just as Michael was. (One great difference; Jordan had a fine supporting cast while Bryant most assuredly does not.) But consider the following…………to name a few:
    It’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a brilliant all-around player, who owns the record for most NBA career points.
    And Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came along when the NBA needed to be saved, and they did just that with their spectacular play. 
    And Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season, conceivably the most remarkable feat in NBA history.
    And Elgin Baylor, a 6’-5” forward, scored and rebounded like a giant.
    And Jerry West was the best pure shooter I’ve ever seen, in addition to being tenacious defensively.   
    And Wilt Chamberlain was the greatest single weapon in basketball history. Wilt caused the NBA to literally change its rules. You may not have seen Chamberlain, but what you can see are the 46 official NBA all-time records he left behind.
    I appreciate your e-mails, but please…………do your homework first.


    Here’s to Jon Lester, 23, Red Sox pitcher who has been fighting a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a blood cancer. On December 5, 2006, it was reported that Lester's latest CT Scan showed no signs of the disease, which now appears to be in remission. Lester is presently on the 15-day disabled list. As a cancer patient myself, I have great empathy for this young man. I’m cheering for him to have a tremendous season.


    Norton Albert (I couldn’t believe it; my middle name and my brother’s middle name all rolled into one) of Tulsa, Oklahoma wrote to ask me why college basketball permits just five personal fouls per player per game while the NBA permits six. Easy! The NBA wants their stars on the court for fan value; it’s all about ticket sales. That rule alone makes it much more difficult for a college coach to strategize than a NBA coach as their star players get into foul trouble.


Story of the Week
THE 12th. MAN


    The 12th man is a term commonly used to describe the fans within a stadium during football games. The term denotes the attempt of a team's fans to help their team. The term has been claimed to be created by Texas A&M University in 1922.


    In Dallas on January 2 of that year, at the Dixie Classic (the forerunner of the Cotton Bowl), A&M played defending national champion Centre College in the first post-season game in the Southwest. In this hard-fought game, which produced national publicity, an underdog Aggie team was slowly but surely defeating a team which boasted having three All-Americans. But the first half produced so many injuries for A&M that Coach D. X. Bible feared he wouldn’t have enough men to finish the game.


    He called into the Aggie section of the stands for E. King Gill, a reserve who had left football after the regular season to play basketball. Gill willingly volunteered and donned the uniform of injured player Heine Weir. Although he did not actually play in the game, his readiness to play symbolized the willingness of all Aggies to support their team to the point of actually entering the game. A statue of E. King Gill stands to the north of Kyle Field to remind today’s Aggies of their constant obligation to preserve the spirit of the 12th. Man.


    In the 1980s, Jackie Sherrill created the "12th Man Kickoff Team" composed of regular students who tried out for the team instead of players who were recruited, as is the normal practice in college football. These students were placed on the roster for the sole purpose of running the kickoffs. Currently one "walk-on" player represents the Texas A&M student body each game, and wears uniform number 12.


    The "12th Man" term has been used by the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears. As a tribute to their fans, the Seahawks retired the number 12 during a game on December 15, 1984.  Since then #12 jerseys have been sold by the team and worn by Seahawks fans. The Broncos have an orange and blue flag hanging in the southern side of their stadium that reads "12th Man". The flag has been in place since the opening of Invesco Field at Mile High. It also hung in the original Mile High Stadium.


    The term "12th Man" was coined and marketed to represent the Texas Aggie fans after the 1922 Dixie Classic. While intellectual property laws recognize such common law uses in trademark disputes, the official registration of the mark was not filed by Texas A&M (U.S. Reg. No. 1948306) until September of 1990, 6 years after the Seahawks began using the term. According to statements made by Texas A&M officials, they have sent requests to stop using the phrase to the Seattle Seahawks, the Buffalo Bills and the Chicago Bears. Only the Seahawks failed to respond.


    In January of 2006, Texas A&M filed suit against the Seattle Seahawks to protect the trademark and in May of 2006, the dispute was settled out of court. In the agreement, Texas A&M allows the Seahawks to continue using the phrase "12th Man" provided the NFL franchise acknowledges that the trademark on the slogan belongs to the school.


    Memo to Texas A&M: I guess if I lived in College Station, Texas, I’d worry about who uses a phrase my school came up with 85 years ago as well. There’s only one other thing I can think of to do in College Station, Texas.


Last Week’s Trivia


    Bob Gibson, one of the two greatest pitchers I’ve ever seen (Sandy Koufax is the other one), has started the most seventh games in World Series competition. The great Cardinals pitcher did so in 1964, 1967 and 1968. He beat the Yankees in ’64 and the Red Sox in ’67, but lost to the Tigers in ’68.

    A classic quote about Gibson by his favorite catcher, Tim McCarver:
"Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn't score any runs."


Trivia Question of the Week


    In 1956, the movie “The Harder They Fall” starred Humphrey Bogart (his last film) and Rod Steiger. The  storyline was about a fighter controlled by the mob whose opposition was paid off to take necessary dives to propel him to fight stardom. The movie fight character was Toro Moreno. What former heavyweight champ in real life was Moreno supposed to be portraying? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer. (And see the movie. It is outstanding.)